|Tuesday, 12 November 2019|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 06-09-23
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>September 23, 2006
 International community determined to advance Mideast peace process, Greek Security Council presidency, FM Bakoyannis declares
NEW YORK, 23/09/2006 (ANA-MPA/P. Panagiotou)The international community is determined to work hard to advance the Middle East peace process, UN Security Council president Greece's foreign minister Dora Bakoyannis said Friday morning (Greek time) after an extraordinary Security Council discussion on the Arab-Israeli conflict initiated by the Greek presidency, and appealed to all the sides for reason and understanding to prevail in order "allow the seeds of peace sown by the international community to bloom". She also pledged that Greece will continue to work in the same direction after completion of its term as Security Council president, "for a comprehensive, just and viable solution for peace in the Middle East".
"The international community is determined to work very hard to advance the Middle East Peace Process," Bakoyannis said after the discussion at the Security Council, held at foreign ministers' level for the first time in more than two decades, which included the Palestinian issue and was also attended by foreign ministers and representatives of the countries of the region.
UN secretary general Kofi Annan made the opening address at the extraordinary debate, while Palestinian Authority president Mahmoud Abbas also briefly addressed the Council at the end of the discussion.
The speakers lauded Greece for its "important initiative", while US secretary of state Condoleezza Rice told reporters after the meeting that she was planning a visit to the Middle East in the near future.
"On behalf of the Greek Presidency (of the Security Council), I wish to express our satisfaction. It was a very creative and very good meeting. The first at this (foreign ministers') level to deal with the problems of the Middle East and the Palestinian issue," Bakoyannis said, noting: "There is a common element and a common perception that arose from this meeting. Namely, that the international community is determined to work very hard to advance the Middle East Peace Process."
"The Middle East cannot wait. The Palestinian crisis cannot wait. We must act, and we must act quickly. I think this (the discussion) was an important step forward," Bakoyannis stressed.
Asked by reporters whether the result would have been better for peace if the Security Council had adopted a Presidency statement, Bakoyannis, the Council President for the month of September, replied "I am not certain because what we see today, as you, also, have ascertained, is the expression of satisfaction with this meeting by all the leaders who attended. Everyone is satisfied, proving that when there is political will, there is always a ray of hope".
To a second question on why a Presidency statement was not issued, Bakoyannis explained that a Presidency statement "is not a simple affair", expressing conviction that "it was much better for the statements of all the sides, and what each side believes, to be heard", adding also her belief that the demonstration of support, from all the sides, for President Mahmoud Abbas was also "very important".
To a question on the Middle East peace process, Bakoyannis noted that "Greece, as you know, is a country situated very close to the Middle East, and is a member of the European Union...We will continue to work in the same direction as during the Security Council presidency, for a comprehensive, just and viable solution for peace in the Middle East".
To a comment that she appeared satisfied with the outcome of the meeting, Bakoyannis said that "what I know and can tell you is that, at the end, everyone was satisfied, and that's what counts".
Addressing the debate earlier, Bakoyannis said that "we all have the ability to do something, regardless of power and size, and we all have the common responsibility of helping the peoples of the Middle East to materialize their vision of living in dignity and peace and looking with hope to the future".
"As a citizen of Athens, and guided by the spirit of our forefathers, I cannot but maintain my firm belief in the prevalence of reason. The prevalence of reason, tolerance and acceptance, and also of symbiosis -- to use a Greek word -- over force," she said, and appealed to all sides "for reason and understanding to prevail so as to give the seeds of peace sown by the international community the chance to bloom in the fertile and historic land of the Middle East, to be benefit of all the peoples of the region, but also of the entire world".
 Address to extraordinary Security Council meeting
NEW YORK, 23/09/2006 (ANA-MPA/P. Panagiotou)Bakoyannis opened her address by expressing appreciation to the attendants for their support of the Greek Security Council presidency's efforts to hold the discussion on the situation in the Middle East and the Palestinian issue, stressing that it was an honor for her to preside over the session, but also a great responsibility.
She said everyone present was cognizant of the multifaceted challenges faced by the international community in the Middle East. The nature of the challenges was such that they influenced not only the peoples of the region -- the Israelis, Palestinians, Lebanese, Syrians, Egyptians and others -- but also the entire international community.
All partners of the United Nations, be it the European Union, the Arab League or the Non-Aligned Movement, to name just a few, consistently place the Middle East question very high on their agendas, Bakoyannis said, adding that despite any differentiations in the positions stated, one crucial element was common to all of them, an element that was reiterated by everyone at the extraordinary Council session, which was the need to achieve a just and viable solution to the Middle East problem.
"That constitutes our common goal and, I believe, the collective will of the world's peoples, as repeatedly expressed by their representatives during the opening session of every UN General Assembly," Bakoyannis said, adding that she could not recall any other conflict to have been at the centre of interest of so many for such a long time.
Yet, she stressed, as the years turned into decades, entire generations have grown up knowing only hatred, while reason and understanding have given up their place to fundamentalism and extremism.
"Despite the common desire for the prevalence of peace, generations of Israelis and Arabs have been deprived of the right to live in freedom and security, and for precisely this reason I am fully aware of the weight of the responsibility today," Bakoyannis said.
The burden was immense, she continued, in the face of the pain of so many people for such a long time, in the face of the tears of the mothers who have lost their sons and daughters in this conflict, but also in the face of the brave vision and determination of those who, throughout the history of this suffering region, genuinely tried to bring peace and paid the highest price in the service of this cause.
"It is our duty to make every effort, to investigate all ways, and to exhaust all our abilities for the achievement of this sought-after peace, in memory of the innocent victims, and to the benefit of the coming generations," Bakoyannis added.
"As a citizen of Athens, and guided by the spirit of the forefathers of that city, I cannot but maintain my firm belief in the prevalence of reason. Of reason, tolerance and acceptance, as also of symbiosis -- to use a Greek word -- over force," she said.
"What does this mean for us? It means that the goal of achieving peace cannot be served by refusing to recognize the existence of one's neighbor, nor by perpetuating a climate of fear and insecurity through a combination of suicide and missile attacks. Nor can peace be advanced by such practices as the abduction of Corporal Gilad Shalit," Bakoyanis warned.
Equally, peace could not be achieved by denying an entire nation its rightful place where it could live in dignity and freedom, or by imposing restrictions that were both humiliating and disparaging and obstructed every prospect for a smooth day-to-day life, nor could it be achieved by forcefully confiscating land and erecting barriers.
"Any settlement must be reached in conformity with international law, including the resolutions adopted by the Security Council. It must be the product of negotiations, the outcome of which should not be prejudged by unilateral measures," she continued.
The principles that must comprise the foundation for a comprehensive and viable, lasting peace are well known, Bakoyannis said, and included all the relevant Security Council resolutions, particularly Resolutions 242 (1967), 338 (1973), 1397 (2002) and 1515 (2003), the terms of reference of the Madrid Conference, including the principle of "land for peace", and the Arab Peace initiative.
The Quartet was also expected to continue its active engagement to fulfill its role, and Greece welcomed its most recent decision to meet regularly, including with the parties and other regional partners, to monitor developments and the actions of the sides involved, and to examine the next steps.
"We look with expectation to tangible results arising from this process," Bakoyannis stressed, adding that "we must also realize that causes are neither advanced, nor assisted, through force and terrorism. And that security is not ensured exclusively and only through military means."
Bakoyannis appealed to all sides for reason and understanding to prevail so as to give the seeds of peace sown by the international community the chance to bloom in the fertile and historic land of the Middle East, to be benefit of all the peoples of the region, but also of the entire world".
Earlier, Bakoyannis outlined the Greek Security Council presidency's goals and Greece's policy positions on a series of other international, as well as national, issues during a press conference shortly before the extraordinary meeting on the Arab-Israeli conflict.
The Greek foreign minister expressed pleasure at being once again in New York, "a wonderful city that every September becomes the capital of international diplomacy" during the annual UN General Assembly, a forum where "all countries, however big or small, strong or weak, rich or poor, have the opportunity to make their voices heard clearly and, why not, loudly".
She said Greece's assumption of the rotating Security Council presidency coincided with the UN's 61st General Assembly, and the country has assumed this responsibility with a sense of seriousness and moderation, but also with confidence in the United Nations as the sole international forum where people and countries put their best selves forward.
Looking at the issues on the agenda, the challenges that lay ahead abounded, she said, noting that they included the situation in Lebanon and the implementation of Resolution 1701 (2006), the clear-cut need for restarting the Middle East peace process, the question of Kosovo's future status, developments in Iran's nuclear program, and the continuing tragedy in Sudan.
"Greece prepared itself well for this mission, and I would like to publicly thank all those who worked so hard over such a long period of time," she said.
Bakoyannis stressed that "our biggest capital is our friends and allies", noting that Greece was privileged to have forged excellent relations with the countries of the entire world, and particularly with the countries of its wider region, SE Europe and the Middle East.
"At the crossroads of three continents, I believe that the governments and peoples consider us a credible interlocutor, a fair and honest partner," she said, and expressed hope that steps, even small ones, would be made this month, during Greece's Security Council presidency, which had selected the UN's relations with regional organizations for the month's thematic debate.
Commenting on the extraordinary Security Council debate on the Arab-Israeli conflict that was about to start, she noted that it would be the first such discussion to take place at foreign ministers' level in more than 20 years, and expressed belief that a strong message would be sent: "We are all committed to peace in the Middle East. Peace at last."
Responding to a question on the candidacies submitted so far for the next UN secretary general, and whether Greece backed any specific candidate, Bakoyannis said Greece believed that the person elected should come from Asia, as it was now that region's turn. Of course, she added, the personality of the next Secretary General was very important.
"We are taking all these aspects into consideration, and will take part in the ongoing deliberations", Bakoyannis said, announcing that the next straw ballot would take place on September 28.
To a press question on the FYROM name issue, Bakoyannis noted that the FYROM foreign minister had asked to meet with her, and she was pleased that she would be meeting with him on Friday.
She said that Greece's position was well-known, and has been stated frequently and clearly.
Greece and FYROM had excellent economic relations, but there was still a need to find a common, mutually-acceptable solution on the name issue, Bakoyannis said, adding that it was an important matter, and that she believed it would be to the benefit of both countries to find a mutually acceptable solution "and we are making efforts in this direction", at both bilateral level and in the context of the UN-brokered negotiations.
"We are working jointly with the United Nations. We are also discussing between ourselves, very clearly stating what each country is thinking. However, we require the good services of the United Nations in order to agree on a commonly acceptable solution to the name issue," Bakoyannis said.
 FM Bakoyannis addresses UN general assembly
NEW YORK, 23/09/2006 (ANA-MPA/P. Panagiotou)Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis addressed on Friday midnight (Greek time) the United Nations 61st General Assembly focusing on the challenges of the 21st century, the Millennium Targets, developments regarding the Arab-Israeli conflict in the Middle East and in Iraq and Greek policy for the Balkans, the Cyprus issue and Greek-Turkish relations.
The Greek foreign minister also referred to Greece's role in the international political scene and the issue of global terrorism.
"Allow me to add my heartiest congratulations to you for being the third woman in the history of the United Nations to be elected President of the General Assembly, particularly at such a critical time in world affairs. Your election is an inspiration for women everywhere struggling to achieve equality and opportunity. You illustrate the truth that, as Plato wrote 2,400 years ago, any society that does not exploit the talents of its women is wasting half its resources," Bakoyannis said.
"I wish also to congratulate and thank your predecessor, my friend and colleague, Jan Eliasson, for all he worked so hard to achieve during his term.
"While we are recognizing service to the United Nations, we would be remiss if we did not extend our appreciation to Secretary General Kofi Annan. I want to express the appreciation of my government for all his efforts to maintain and strengthen the prestige and moral authority of the Organization.
"I would also like to welcome Montenegro to the family of states, the Greek foreign minister said.
"The 21st century began with huge challenges: poverty, wars, humanitarian crises, waves of refugees, terrorism, the proliferation of weapons, human trafficking, drugs, intercommunal violence, environmental downgrading, natural disasters. What is necessary for us to confront these woes is for us to handle the deeply-rooted causes that have been developing for centuries. In order to achieve this, we must join our forces to mobilize the combined strength of our ideas, our resources and, above all, the humanity that we all share," she said.
Referring to the issue of terrorism, the Greek foreign minister said that "it has become the most pressing problem of our times that touches all of us, regardless of religion, race or gender. We must face this major danger collectively because nobody, no matter how powerful he is, can do it unilaterally. The most effective way for us to handle terrorism at its root is to promote tolerance, mutual acceptance, mutual understanding and, above all, development, the possibility for all to have access to the necessary commodities for their life.
"The need for us to achieve the targets of the millennium within the time limits set by the heads of state and government during the summits of 2000 and 2005 is important. The targets include, of course, the crucial issue of us reaching the limit of 0.7 percent in development aid to countries facing serious economic difficulties. This target constitutes the key for us to achieve global cooperation on development and we are all determined to achieve this as soon as possible.
"On their part, the developing countries need to pursue serious economic policies and reforms that promote development and create reliable and transparent institutions. Only through concentrated collective action do we have hope of remedying the imbalances and inequalities that lie at the root of many of the conflicts preoccupying the world today. Allow me to stress at this point that we must place Africa at the centre of our efforts," Bakoyannis noted.
"The tensions in the Middle East demand equal attention. The Middle East is the region that will test the mettle of this Organization as a force for peace in the immediate future. If we fail in that test, all of us stand to pay a heavy price. During the past several months we all became witnesses to unforgettable images of suffering and destruction in this part of the world.
"The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is at the root of most problems in the region and it is obvious that it should be at the top of the list of our priorities if peace and stability are to return to the area. The Road Map offers the strategic plan for a solution based on the principle of land for peace, especially since basic elements of it are well known and generally accepted by the international community. The Road Map is in essence a performance-driven guide to a settlement based on all relevant Security Council Resolutions, including 242 and 338, the conclusions of the Madrid Conference and the Arab Summit in Beirut, and we must all make every effort to see that it is implemented.
"On Lebanon, strict implementation of Resolution 1701 provides the blueprint for resolving the basic problems that led to the recent crisis. We understand the difficulties before us, but we must push ahead resolutely because determination and tenacity are essential to tackling long-standing issues in volatile regions.
"The continued violence and instability in Iraq are a cause of great concern for all of us It is critical that every effort possible be made to bring order and unity to that troubled country. Deaths, especially of civilians, have reached terrifying levels with no end to the slaughter in sight. All who have any influence with the warring factions in Iraq must try to make them see what pain and suffering they have inflicted on their own people and what worse horrors they will unleash on their land if they continue to drift toward a devastating civil war.
"Our own region, the Balkans, was once known as "history's cauldron," and we endured a century of bitter ethnic, religious and ideological conflicts up to very recent times. We are moving rapidly, however, to disown that label for the sake of our own peoples and the new Europe we are building. Some trouble spots remain, but we are trying to deal with them in a new spirit of cooperation and tolerance.
"Kosovo is one issue that still needs attention. The status talks are underway and we hope that they will produce a viable settlement that will strengthen the security and stability of the entire region. Right now this appears difficult. To overcome the impasse will require patient and careful diplomacy. Our goal in reaching a viable, long term solution should not be compromised by setting an artificial deadline.
"I deeply regret that the Cyprus problem remains unresolved. In the 32 years of the military occupation of one third of the territory of Cyprus by well over 40.000 Turkish troops, Greece has strongly supported all initiatives by the United Nations for the achievement of a comprehensive solution. We are committed to doing everything possible to achieve a just and viable solution, on the basis of the pertinent Security Council Resolutions and the EU principles and values. We strive for a bizonal, bicommunal federation that will bring peace and prosperity on the island.
"Our goal remains an agreed solution between the two communities, without arbitration and tight timetables, which will be approved subsequently by referenda. To these efforts we are prepared to lend our wholehearted support.
"Greece's foreign and security policy is based on the principles enshrined in the United Nations Charter and especially on the peaceful settlement of disputes and of good neighborly relations.
"This basic framework is also reflected in my country's continuing efforts to further improve relations with Turkey and to consolidate mutual understanding and cooperation. On our part, we are trying to overcome the remaining difficulties, continuing to take initiatives to widen and deepen cooperation in all fields so that the relationship with Turkey becomes a win-win situation for both countries. In this context, we are hopeful that Turkey will reciprocate for our countries to solidify good neighborly relations.
"European integration is the bright promise visible on the horizon for the entire region of South Eastern Europe, a future which will encompass greater cooperation and interaction among all the countries in the area and heal the wounds of the past century at long last.
"We live in a troubled world and the United Nations is always enmeshed in the worst of the troubles so that it sometimes seems that it is not accomplishing much. We must not forget, however, the conflicts it has resolved, the misery it has diminished, the suffering it has abated, the pain it has eased all over the world in its brief lifetime.
"Man feeds on dreams of hope, Aeschylus wrote, and for men, women and children everywhere the United Nations remains the best hope there is," Bakoyannis concluded.
 FM continues contacts in New York; departs for Washington on Monday
NEW YORK, 23/09/2006 (ANA-MPA/P. Panagiotou)Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis' program on Friday included her participation, as President of the UN Security Council, at the United Nations' meeting with the Regional Organizations.
She later had meetings with UN special mediator in the negotiations on the future status of Kosovo, Martti Ahtisaari, and with NATO Secretary-General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer.
Bakoyannis was also due to participate in the separate meetings which the foreign ministers and the permanent representatives of the European Union countries will have with the representatives of Russia and the United States of America.
Bakoyannis, after her address to the UN general assembly, was due to take part in a meeting within the context of the Inter-Balkan Cooperation, which will be held at the offices of the Greek Permanent Delegation, with the participation of Ahtisaari, with the future status of Kosovo as the main issue of discussion. On the sidelines of the meeting, the Greek foreign minister will also meet with her counterpart of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM).
The Greek foreign minister will continue her contacts at the UN headquarters on Monday with a meeting which she will have with UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, at 5 p.m. (Greek time). She will also have meetings with her counterparts from Guatemala, Lebanon, South Africa, Libya and Nigeria, while she will attend a luncheon hosted in her honor by the Greek-American Chamber of Commerce.
On Monday afternoon (local time) she will depart for Washington.
The two objectives of the presidency and Greece's participation at the UN Security Council "have succeeded," a diplomatic source stressed on Thursday, noting "our country's contribution in international matters, facilitating efforts for stability and peace and the projection of an image of a modern Greece which has a role and view in world political developments."
Thursday's open session of the UN Security Council on the Arab-Israeli conflict, which was held at the initiative and intensive efforts of the Greek Presidency "confirms that we achieved our objectives," the diplomatic source said, adding:" It was an important moment for Greek foreign policy, a political and diplomatic capital for our country, creating a new foundation which can be utilized."
 Gov't rejects PASOK criticism against development minister over MEVGAL
ATHENS, 23/09/2006 (ANA)The government on Friday rejected criticism leveled against Development Minister Dimitris Sioufas by main opposition PASOK, stressing that the minister had shown unprecedented determination in protecting the interests of consumers and citizens against the action of cartels.
Alternate government spokesman Evangelos Antonaros rapped what he called the main opposition's attempts to discredit the Competition Commission, saying that these essentially targeted Greek farmers and Greek consumers and favored a situation where the Commission and its supervisory bodies under-performed and vested interests could hope for tolerance.
In a press conference on Thursday, PASOK claimed that Sioufas' intervention had undermined the functioning of the independent Competition Commission, creating conditions that were detrimental to the market and encouraged phenomena of untransparency, such as those brought to light by the MEVGAL dairy industry extortion case.
The spokesman pointed out that the markets for milk and dairy products, petrol and a series of other basic goods were being systematically investigated for the first time, while the present government and the Competition Commission had imposed penalties for orchestrated practices by distribution networks and supermarkets.
He stressed that the cases that were now in the headlines would never have got to justice at all without the government's determination. According to the spokesman, the Competition Commission had been in a "poor state" when the government had taken over and had needed additional staff in order to do its job.
Regarding the milk cartel, Antonaros said that a joint ministerial decision was issued, following dialogue that was concluded shortly before the Thessaloniki International Fair, that put the Hellenic Organization for Standardization (ELOT) and the Unified Agency for the Inspection of Foodstuffs (EFET) in charge of carrying out inspections to determine the origins of milk products, thus ensuring their quality and consumer protection.
 Papoulias concludes official visit to Germany
BERLIN, 23/09/2006 (ANA-MPA / F. Karaviti)President of the Republic Karolos Papoulias concluded his official visit here late Thursday following high-level contacts with German leadership, including with his counterpart Horst Koehler.
Papoulias began the non-official portion of his trip to Germany on Friday with a visit to Cologne, the city where he lived for 14 years.
Earlier, in Berlin, talks expectedly revolved around international and European issues, with the Greek side again outlining its positions on a variety of matters, particularly EU-Turkey and Greek-Turkish relations.
Papoulias, moreover, reiterated that Europe must develop a "single voice" on the international stage, especially in terms of foreign policy and security.
The Greek president also discussed the thorny issue of WWII-era war reparations with Koehler -- an issue that Athens regards as unresolved -- with the intention being to establish a "communications channel" between the two presidencies, thus allowing for a proposal to be referred to the German president's office.
On Friday, Papoulias visited Cologne and the city's university, the former Greek foreign minister's alma mater. He also met with the city's German-Greek business club and with the ancient municipality's mayor, Fritz Schramma.
Deputy Foreign Minister Evripides Stylianidis, who accompanied Papoulias, noted that the Greek head of state clearly detailed Athens' positions to the German side regarding its national issues and the future of Europe.
He also said talks with German authorities revolved around the strengthening of Greek-language programs in certain schools.
 Education minister invites striking teachers to dialogue
ATHENS, 23/09/2006 (ANA)Education Minister Marietta Yannakou invited the Public Elementary School Teachers' Federation (DOE) board of directors to a dialogue on Monday.
Meanwhile, the plenary session of the presidents of elementary and nursery teachers' unions is scheduled to take place in Athens on Saturday to decide on the future of their sector's strike mobilizations launched five days ago.
 Journalism must obey rules of democracy, minister of state tells conference
ATHENS, 23/09/2006 (ANA)Minister of State and government spokesman Theodoros Roussopoulos on Friday addressed the conference of the 1st Euromediterranean Journalism Institute, organized by the Greek Union for Atlantic and European cooperation under the auspices of the General Information Secretariat.
"Journalism, as an authority, must obey the rules of democracy and not evade them in the name of truth or the supposed 'truth'. In journalism, just like in life, the means do not justify the ends. The beginning of the infringement of democratic rights can easily become the beginning for a continuous undermining of the democratic system," he said.
Roussopoulos explained that "from these two general principles of humanity and democracy, the individual rules of ethics are produced with their formulations from time to time. And the role of journalism in our societies is determined by these two principles."
"When the duty of the journalist, to provide authoritative information for citizens that they can utilize in taking well informed decisions in private and public life and in their actions, is seen from the aspect of humanity and democracy, then the solving of the dilemmas of ethics becomes easier," the minister said.
Addressing about 50 young journalists from 30 countries in the Balkans, the Middle East, the Caucasus, European countries and the United States, he further said that "you are the privileged mediators of reality. Indeed, you will often find yourselves in a position of jointly shaping reality, to intervene drastically in it with your work. We are living in an era in which information is the most valuable commodity. In this era, the responsibility of the journalist to respond to the requirements of the profession is increasing constantly and, indeed, it is increasing with speedy rates. This responsibility of the journalist is the catalyst that renders the constitutionally safeguarded in every modern democracy freedom of the press socially beneficial."
 Papandreou slams government over sugar compensation, biofuels
LARISSA, 23/09/2006 (ANA)Main opposition PASOK leader George Papandreou on Friday renewed his attacks against the government, which he accused of failing to support the local biofuels industry and diverting compensation due to farmers to the Agricultural Bank of Greece to facilitate its sale.
"In spite of the big talk regarding biofuels, in practice the licenses for biofuels are going to fossil-fuel importers and not to these factories," Papandreou said during a visit to a sugar-manufacturing plant owned by the Greek Sugar Industry in Larisa.
"Regarding the compensation from the reduction of the quota we are hearing about, it seems the government is interested in having the compensation go to the Agricultural Bank so that it can be sold and not to producers," he added.
According to Papandreou, this showed that the government was "a prisoner to the few, the powerful and the middle-men" and that Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis "was quick with big words but invisible and silent before the problems."
Accusing the government of indifference toward Greek farmers, he said that Karamanlis had never gone to Brussels to negotiate better terms for Greek agricultural products and that Greece had "faced continuous defeats on agricultural issues, such as Mediterranean products, cotton and sugar," because of the government's policies and lack of a plan.
During the visit, Papandreou was briefed about the factory's problems by the plant's management and trade union representatives, who blamed the company's present crisis on the New Democracy government and said that it affected both farmers and workers at the plant.
 PASOK party leader makes address at election centers of party candidates in Larissa
LARISSA, 23/09/2006 (ANA)Main opposition PASOK party leader George Papandreou criticized the government and the prime minister in an address he made at the election centers of party candidates in Larissa, central Greece, on Friday, ahead of local elections due to take place in the country on October 15.
Referring to the prime minister, Papandreou said "it appears that he is bound by economic interests and a status quo of arbitrariness and not a society of values", also criticizing the government of "deliberately creating insecurity among the Greek people and of wanting the citizen a hostage so that it can buy off the popular vote."
Papandreou also said that the government is showing at the same time great sensitivity for "its own people, its friends, the chosen ones and the powerful", while claiming that the policy of the government wants to help a small group of people.
 Culture minister in Chicago for opening of 'Greek Academy'
CHICAGO, 23/09/2006 (ANA-MPA - I. Fragouli)Culture Minister George Voulgarakis attended the official opening of a new Greek private school in the city of Chicago, which will be named the "Greek Academy" and is linked to the Agia Triada community.
The minister, who arrived in Chicago on Thursday, also offered $50,000 to the school on behalf of the Greek State.
The Greek Academy will provide bilingual daily and supplementary classes in Greek and English.
The minister also stressed the need to preserve Greek culture outside of Greece's borders and to resist the homogenizing pressures of globalization.
 Justice Minister attends informal council of ministers in Finland
TAMPERE, 23/09/2006 (ANA)Justice Minister Anastasios Papaligouras participated in the European Union's informal Council of Justice and Internal Affairs Ministers that convened in the city of Tampere in Finland.
An announcement by the justice ministry on Friday stressed that the most important issue at the ministerial council was the implementation of the Tampere European Council's guidelines, that laid the foundations in the sectors of freedom, security and justice, as well as the further application of the Hague program that specialized the principles formulated at the Finnish city.
The Greek justice minister pointed out, according to the announcement, that it is necessary to maintain unanimity in the taking of decisions concerning human rights and citizens' freedoms, since these rights constitute the sensitive nucleus of democracy.
Papaligouras underlined that Greece does not agree with the implementation of article 42 of the European Union's Treaty on the subjection of sectors requiring the taking of decisions with unanimity to a process of decisions with a special majority.
However, he requested the taking of measures for the improvement of the way decisions are taken in the sectors of justice and internal affairs with the enactment of control and evaluation processes for the implementation of legislative measures taken so far.
 Kassimis meets with Palestinian deputy
ATHENS, 23/09/2006 (ANA)Deputy Foreign Minister Theodoros Kassimis on Friday received Palestinian Deputy (Democratic Front for the Liberation Palestine) Ali Faisal.
Kassimis referred to efforts by Greece and the international community for the finding of a just and viable solution to the Palestinian issue on the basis of two states.
According to a foreign ministry announcement, Kassimis pointed to Greece's initiative as UN Security Council President to convene an open, official meeting, on a foreign ministers level, on the Palestinian problem for the first time ever in the Council's history.
The deputy foreign minister noted that the two sides should respond effectively to the efforts deployed by the international community for the activation of the peace process, underlining in particular the need to put an end to the vicious circle of violence.
According to the same announcement, Faisal said that his party believed in the peace between the two peoples and the solution of two states, adding that he briefed Kassimis on the Palestinian Authority's actions, the efforts by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to form a government of national unity and the humanitarian crisis prevailing in the Palestinian territories.
Faisal also thanked Greece for its "steadfast support" to the Palestinian people and its initiatives fro the promotion of peace.
The Palestinian official also met with a delegation of the Coalition of the Left, Movements and Ecology (Synaspismos) party headed by Nikos Hountis, who reiterated his party's "full support to the just demands of the Palestinian people" saying that the Palestinian issue was the key to peace in the Middle East.
 Health Minister Avramopoulos addresses doctors in Patras
PATRAS, 23/09/2006 (ANA)Health and Social Solidarity Minister Dimitris Avramopoulos, who is currently visiting Patras in the Peloponnese, on Friday chaired a broad meeting comprised of directors of the region's hospitals and representatives of university, National Health System (ESY) and Patras Medical Association doctors, as well as employees.
The purpose of the visit was for matters to be examined concerning hospitals and for solutions to be given, such as better operational conditions to be made for the region's health system.
Speaking to reporters after the meeting, Avramopoulos said that "The University Hospital of Patras has made steps forward, it has gained a good position in the National Health System, it has an excellent scientific and medical staff, but, however, it has deficiencies."
He said that "the government has of recent taken initiatives aimed at there soon being sufficiency and full capacity in personnel for all of the countries hospitals."
 Presidential event for International Day of Peace on Sunday
ATHENS, 23/09/2006 (ANA)In para 3, line 2 "main opposition PASOK leader George Papandreou," is removed from the list of speakers at the event, in accordance with later announcement by the presidency. Corrected version follows:
The Presidency of the Hellenic Republic has organized an event at the Athens Concert Hall on Sunday to mark International Day of Peace, which falls on September 21.
During the event, which was organized with the assistance of the defense ministry, there will be a screening of the documentary "Philanthropic Peace" by Maria Hatzimichali-Papaliou with music by Mikis Theodorakis.
The event will be addressed by President of the Republic Karolos Papoulias, Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis, Defence Minister Evangelos Meimarakis and Education Minister Marietta Yiannakou.
 Defense minister to visit Cyprus
ATHENS, 23/09/2006 (ANA)National Defence Minister Evangelos Meimarakis is to carry out a visit to Cyprus on October 1 for the 46th anniversary since the declaration of the Cyprus Republic and will attend a military parade by the Cyprus National Guard.
 Premier briefed by FinMin on global economy outlook
ATHENS, 23/09/2006 (ANA)Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis met with Finance Minister George Alogoskoufis on Friday and was briefed on the recent International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank annual conferences in Singapore.
Alogoskoufis told reporters after the meeting that the European economy is on track as deficits were being reduced and growth rates were increasing, adding that forecasts on the global economy were favorable for the next two years.
The minister also referred to the very significant role played by the emerging economies of China and India.
Beginning next week, attention will focus on the preparation of the new state budget and its draft plan will be presented by October 2.
Based on finance ministry predictions, this year's goal for containing the deficit to 2.6 percent will be met, while next year's goal will be to cut the deficit by between 0.2 and 0.3 percent.
Also, based on the same predictions, the new budget will include no tax increases or car circulation fee hikes, but it will include the government-announced increases for the low pension benefit (EKAS) and the OG, farmers social insurance fund's pensions while, at the same time, taxation rates will be reduced.
 National Bank aims to become leader in SE Europe
ATHENS, 23/09/2006 (ANA)National Bank's main goal was to establish its leadership in the wider Southeast European region and in the Greek market, the bank's chairman and chief executive Takis Arapoglou told a group of Turkish journalists on Friday.
The Turkish delegation is visiting Greece at the invitation of National Bank, along with the chairman and other executives of Finansbank. They were briefed over National Bank's strategy, its financial results and its international orientation.
Arapoglou emphasized the acquisition of Finansbank, saying it was upgrading National Bank's regional role, while he stressed that this investment would help in further promoting business relations between the two countries. The new group, to be created after the integration of Finansbank, will have total assets of more than 70 billion euros, more than 11 million customers and a branch network of more than 1,300 branches (with more than half located outside Greek borders).
Arapoglou said Finansbank was among the most rapidly growing banks, based on its six-month results, and among the top European banks in performance, justifying National Bank's investment decision.
Finansbank's return on equity capital totalled 38 percent in the first six months of 2006, with net profits up 56 pct to more than 275 million YTL. Assets grew 63 percent to 17.1 billion YTL.
 Finmin welcomes National, Finansbank alliance
ATHENS, 23/09/2006 (ANA)Finance Minister George Alogoskoufis on Friday welcomed an alliance between Athens-quoted National Bank of Greece and Finansbank of Turkey.
"This is bold, decisive move of strategic importance that has been vindicated by developments," Alogoskoufis told a dinner hosted by National to mark its deal to buy a major stake in Finansbank that is due to lead to its acquisition.
Attending the dinner were senior executives of both banks, Turkey's ambassador in Athens, Tahsin Burcuoglu, and Turkish reporters.
"Cooperation between Greek and Turkish firms will benefit both sides, as a larger, deeper market will be created with more potential, more mature and homogenous, with more opportunities for businesses, consumers and bilateral cooperation," the minister noted.
"I am convinced that with a spirit of cooperation, all matters can be resolved that emerge, and that the future for our economies and societies harbors positive developments," he added.
 6th Euro-Med Conference on Industry ends in Rhodes
RHODES, 23/09/2006 (ANA)The 6th Euro-Mediterranean Conference on Industry ended in Rhodes on Friday with a number of unanimous conclusions to improve and promote Euro-Mediterranean cooperation.
The conclusions adopted concern the implementation of the Euro-Mediterranean Charter on businesses, promotion of investments, facilitation of the trade of industrial products, innovation and the future of textile and clothing industries.
Presiding Finnish Trade and Industry Minister Mauri Pekkarinen pointed out on Friday that the goal is to establish a Mediterranean trade zone by 2010 and characterized the conference conclusions as very important.
Development Minister Dimitris Sioufas commented that the conference conclusions constitute an important step in giving a new impetus to Euro-Mediterranean cooperation and stressed that important issues, such as the need to further support small and medium-sized businesses, were highlighted during the conference.
He praised the Finnish EU Presidency's contribution to the significant conclusions reached and the notable interventions made by European Commission vice-president Gunter Verheugen.
On his part, Verheugen underlined the conference's significance within the framework of a broader Euro-Mediterranean cooperation, stressing that this cooperation should move ahead as soon as possible.
In addition, he expressed certainty that a Euro-Mediterranean free trade zone will be the largest market in the world and provide an opportunity to turn globalization into a comparative advantage for the region.
The two-day Euro-Mediterranean Ministerial Conference proceedings were attended by government ministers and representatives from the 37 countries in the Euro-Mediterranean Partnership, namely, 25 EU member states, Bulgaria and Romania which are in the process of EU accession, 9 Mediterranean states Egypt, Algeria, Jordan, Israel, Lebanon, Morocco, Syria, Tunisia, Turkey and the Palestinian Authority.
The conference took place in Rhodes instead of Finland following a proposal put forward by Sioufas in consultation with Pekkarinen, who heads the EU industry ministers' council.
 PASOK party spokesman criticizes development ministry
ATHENS, 23/09/2006 (ANA)Main opposition PASOK party spokesman Nikos Athanasakis on Friday criticized the development ministry's civil leadership for its options, positions and practices.
Athanasakis said "it is checked for its options, positions and its practice, as well as for its effort to turn the Competition Committee, that should operate as a really independent authority, into a branch of the minister's office."
The spokesman also criticized the development ministry's leadership as a result of the "photographic proclamation for the selection of the general director."
Also referring to statements made by the economy minister on Friday, the PASOK party spokesman said "everything is going well for Mr. Alogoskoufis regarding the economy and this is strange because no citizen understands this, apart from the few and our friends who benefit, because the many are harmed."
 Greek media industry steadily growing, report
ATHENS, 23/09/2006 (ANA)The Greek media industry grew steadily last year with the newspaper production index rising 1.8 pct in 2005, from 2.3 pct in the previous year, a report by Hellastat said on Friday.
The magazine production index grew 3.5 pct last year, compared with a 7.1 pct increase in 2004, the report said. Hellastat said the last two years were indicative of printed media dynamism, with magazine advertising revenues exceeding those by TV stations for the first time ever (803.45 million euros and 768.12 million euros, respectively).
Advertising revenues of all media categories grew by almost 13 percent in 2004 to 2.04 billion euros, helped by the organizing of the Athens 2004 Olympic Games and the two elections in the country. Ad revenue growth slowed to 7.44 pct in 2004 with revenues totaling 2.19 billion euros. Newspapers recorded the biggest comparative improvement, with revenues up 15.34 percent, raising their share in the domestic advertising market to 18.58 percent.
Greek magazines, however, accounted for the biggest part of ad revenues (886.2 million euros in 2005) raising its market share to 40.43 percent.
Radio and television stations saw their market shares ease to 5.20 pct (from 5.67 pct) and 35.80 pct (from 37.65 pct) respectively in 2005 and 2004.
Greek magazines recorded a double digit growth rate in the first eight months of 2006, with their market share in advertising revenues rising to 42.14 pct from 40.71 pct in the corresponding period last year. Radio and newspapers also raised their market shares (9.02 pct and 8.73 pct respectively), while TV revenues grew 0.55 pct in the January-August period and its market share eased to 34.05 pct.
A total of 28 new magazines were published in the first five months of 2006, to a total 230 in Greece.
 OTE telecom forges pay deal
ATHENS, 23/09/2006 (ANA)Manangement and staff at OTE telecom, a heavily traded share on the Athens bourse, on Friday forged a collective labor agreement for 2006-2007, including pay.
Under the pact that emerged from weeks of negotiations, wages will rise by 6.0% in 2006 and 6.5% in 2007. A 2.9% rise has already been awarded backdated to January 1, 2006, which is to become 3.0%; and another 3.0% will be backdated from September 1, 2006, the OME-OTE union said in a statement.
Following the deal, the minimum wage at the company will rise to 812 euros per month for staff who have completed mandatory education; 1,128 euros for degree-holders; and 1,405 for specialized personnel holding a doctorate, the statement said.
 Eurobank bids for Bulgaria's DZI
ATHENS, 23/09/2006 (ANA)Athens-quoted Eurobank EFG SA said on Friday that it had submitted a binding offer for the acquisition of DZI Bank of Bulgaria.
Replying to a query from the Capital Market Commission on September 21, 2006, Eurobank said in a statement that it would make a formal announcement if a final agreement was signed.
"It is noted that the abovementioned acquisition is not expected to influence the share price, as its size is not material to Eurobank EFG," the statement added.
 Kleeman to set up Romanian subsidiary
ATHENS, 23/09/2006 (ANA)Athens-quoted Kleeman Hellas SA said on Friday that it would complete the establishment of a subsidiary in Bucharest, Romania by the end of the year.
Kleeman will hold 70% of stock in the new limited liability company and a private investor the remaining 30%, management said in a statement to the Athens bourse.
The subsidiary's line of business will be the sale of elevators, the statement added.
 Greek rail transports lag behind EU average, report
THESSALONIKI, 23/09/2006 (ANA)Railway services accounted for only 2.0 percent of cargo transport and 3.0 pct of passenger transport in Greece, significantly lower compared to rates of 8.0 percent and 6.0 pct in the EU, a report by the Technical Chamber of Greece said on Friday.
The report, presented in Thessaloniki during a seminar on "Railway Egnatia", said completion of a railway project along the Egnatia Motorway and of the western line -to be financed by the 4th Community Support Framework- would contribute decisively in raising railway transport activities.
The Western Railway Line is included in 30 projects of a Inter-European Transport Network, linking the port of Igoumenitsa with the cities of Ioannina, Kalabaka, Rio, Kalamata and Kozani.
The project is budgeted at 2.5 billion euros.
Leonidas Moshos, a transport manager at Hellenic Railways Organization, said the organization's revenues from cargo transport would total 40 million euros this year, up from 21.5 million in 2005.
 Yachting trade fair opens
ATHENS, 23/09/2006 (ANA)A trade fair for luxury yachts opened its gates to visitors on Friday.
Exclusive Yachting 2006 at the Aghios Kosmas Olympics marina lasts until 24 September.
More than 200 vessels are on display from major manufacturers around the world.
 Day without Cars - Transport minister's statements
ATHENS, 23/09/2006 (ANA)Two specially adapted vehicles will be in operation within the next few weeks to monitor bus lanes and photograph violators. In addition they will be equipped with devices that can issue tickets, which in turn will be electronically forwarded to the Traffic Police headquarters, stated Transport and Communications Minister Michalis Liapis on the occasion of the European Day without Cars on Friday.
Liapis added that the state has invested in the improvement of transportation infrastructures aimed at providing Athens with a modern city transportation network allowing quick, affordable and safe commuting.
The transport minister stated that the effort aims at persuading the public to use mass transportation contributing to the efforts to reduce pollution and solve the traffic problem in the Greek capital.
 EU Commission presents strategy to protect Europe's soils
BRUSSELS, 23/09/2006 (ANA-MPA - M. Aroni)The European Commission on Friday presented a strategy to protect Europe's soils, urging EU member-states to take action to keep their soils healthy and able to support human activity and ecosystems.
The Commission proposes common principles, targets and actions, obliging EU member-states to designate regions that are at risk from erosion, organic matter down gradation, compression, salivation and landslides.
Member-states are also called to set targets to reduce the risks and to avoid further pollution of soils, while recording polluted areas within their borders and designing national strategies to restore them.
According to Greek European Commissioner for the environment Stavros Dimas, the Commission is proposing a common framework on an EU level in order to protect soils throughout the Community and allow member-states to take into account particular national situations in its implementation.
"We seek to that citizens, both now and in the future, will be able to benefit from soils that will be able to carry out a wide range of functions," Dimas said.
 Int'l conference focuses on survival of fabled Med Monk Seal
ANTALYA, 23/09/2006 (ANA-MPA / H. K. Tzannis)Efforts to save what many scientists warn is the "world's most endangered species" - the Mediterranean Monk seal - took centre-stage here this week during a high-profile international conference dedicated to the marine mammal's survival, an imperative matter for Greece given that the majority of the remaining seals are reportedly found in the Aegean.
The alarmingly low figure of no more than 350 Mediterranean Monk Seals (Monachus Monachus) was quoted by several experts for the entire Aegean, with the largest concentration centered around the Sporades island of Alonissos in the central Aegean and other colonies on the Turkish coasts in the eastern Aegean, whereas experts referred to another 50 animals, at the very most, throughout the entire Mediterranean, including roughly 12 "sightings" around Cyprus. An additional 150 live in colonies in the Atlantic Ocean, speakers said.
According to marine biology expert Daniel Cebrian, a veteran researcher previously based for more than a decade on Alonissos, the Monk Seal population has stabilized over the past few years, mainly due to less killings of the mammals by poachers. The Spanish national nevertheless said the Aegean population probably does not exceed 300.
Asked to cite a single measure that would help reverse the dire situation for the species, Cebrian was unequivocal.
"You must involve the local population; the children, the fishermen, everybody. Cooperation cannot be dominated by outsiders, as islanders, everywhere in the world, are known for their territoriality," he stressed.
His comments were echoed Yiannis Vlaikos, who represented the fishermen's cooperative of Alonissos, the island more-or-less regarded as the paramount habitat of the species. Vlaikos detailed the grassroots conservation efforts and vigilance in protecting sensitive maritime and onshore areas by the isle's local fisherman against encroachers and over-development.
On her part, Myroula Hadjichristoforou, from Cyprus' department of fisheries and marine research, emphasized the need for stricter legislation and enforcement vis-a-vis fishing activities, before pointing to the recent withdrawal of four trawlers out of the island republic's fleet of eight.
"If we can't save 350 seals, well then, what's the use of a united Europe," Hadjichristoforou added.
The issue of over-fishing was also cited by Ali Gucu of the Institute of Marine Sciences at Turkey's Mersin University, who told participants that "seal pups suffering from starvation are becoming very common", in reference to the Cilician coast and the Turkish Mediterranean coasts north of Cyprus.
Final conclusions from the conference stressed that the Monk Seal population is also threatened by climate change and genetic impoverishment, whereas a hefty figure of six million euros per year was cited as necessary to develop local development projects.
The three-day series of lectures, addresses, seminars and the international conference on the Mediterranean Monk seal comprised the 2006 BLUEweek-MEDday event, held in a coastal resort (Kemer) in verdant Antalya province of southern Turkey. BLUEweek-MEDday commemorated the 30th anniversary of the signing of the seminal Barcelona Convention -- in essence, the international framework of protocols that protect the Mediterranean Sea, and by extension, facilitate the entire basin's sustainable development.
Besides the international conference focusing on the protection of the Mediterranean Monk Seal (Monachus monachus), BLUEweek-MEDday featured the 2nd edition of the Mediterranean Environmental Award, the photo exhibition "Made in Med" and seminars revolving around the issue of "best environmental practices for the tanning industry" as well as on the introduction of eco-management in university curricula.
"The wide participation and positive outcome of this first edition of BLUEweek represent a basic step in achieving sustainable development in the Mediterranean region," said Sergio Illuminato, the director of Rome-based INFO/RAC, the Centre for Information and Communication of the Barcelona Convention.
BLUEweek-MEDday was organized by the three Barcelona Convention Regional Activity Centers (RACs), Tunis-based Specially Protected Areas/RAC, the Barcelona-based Cleaner Production/RAC and INFO/RAC, with the collaboration and contribution of the Bonn and Bern Conventions and the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW), as well as with the support of the Turkish ministry of environment and forestry, the Italian ministry of environment, land and sea and the Principality of Monaco.
 Greek and S. Korean research foundations sign memorandum of understanding
IRAKLIO, 23/09/2006 (ANA)The Crete-based Technology and Research Foundation (ITE) and the Korea Science and Engineering Foundation (KOSEF) signed a scientific Memorandum of Understanding in early September; it was announced in Iraklio, Crete, on Friday.
The purpose of the memorandum is the joint promotion of research and technological activities in the sectors of natural sciences and engineering.
The agreement was signed by the president of ITE's board, professor Alkiviadis H. Pagiatakis and KOSEF's president professor Oh-Kab Kwon.
The memorandum of understanding foresees the joint conducting of research work for a period of at least two years, the exchange of scientists, the holding of conferences and the promotion of cooperation on other levels which will be mutually agreed by both sides.
The memorandum of understanding will remain valid for a period of three years and can be renewed automatically, under the prerequisite that both sides wish to do so.
The relevant agreement was signed at the initiative of KOSEF on the occasion of the recent visit to Greece by President of the Republic of Korea, Roh Moo-Hyan.
 Paleokostas released from hospital, taken before prosecutor
ATHENS, 23/09/2006 (ANA)Notorious fugitive Nikos Paleokostas, considered the most wanted man in Greece, was released from the hospital on Friday and led before an appeals court public prosecutor and a first-instance court prosecutor in charge of executing court sentences.
There are 68 outstanding warrants and convictions against him, amounting to a total of 87 years imprisonment, issued in his absence during the 16 years that he eluded capture. Afterwards, the prisoner was led back to holding cell at Attica Police General Headquarters.
Paleokostas was arrested through a carefully prepared police operation involving several departments near the city of Livadia, central Greece, on September 13. He was lightly injured while attempting to escape police pursuit when his car swerved off course.
The numerous charges against him include armed robbery against banks and the abduction of a businessman in Thessaloniki, while police also suspect him of masterminding the spectacular jail break in which his brother Vassilis Paleokostas and an Albanian accomplice Alket Rizaj escaped from Korydallos prison in Athens using a hired helicopter.
The Albanian was arrested in Thiva just a few days before police intercepted Paleokostas.
 Large fire on Samos now under control
SAMOS, 23/09/2006 (ANA)A large forest fire that broke out Thursday evening on the southeast Aegean island of Samos was reported to have been placed under control on Friday.
Firefighting aircraft taking part in the efforts to put out the forest fire were instrumental in helping to contain the blaze to one front in the mountainous area of Lazaros, near the village of Vourliotes, firefighters said.
The fire started in a forest expanse and spread quickly, fanned by the strong winds blowing in the region.
The island's entire firefighting force was taking part in the efforts to extinguish the blaze, which has destroyed forested areas as well as areas that have been burned again in the past.
The blaze does was not threaten populated areas, and was now restricted to a remote and inaccessible section of forest, firefighters told ANA-MPA
 Two films share top prize during BLUEweek-MEDday event in Turkey
ANTALYA, 23/09/2006 (ANA-MPA / H. K. Tzannis)A computer-animated short film from Germany and a poignant tale demonstrating the importance and symbolism of water in a desolate Maghreb village shared the 2nd edition of the Mediterranean Environmental Award '06 this week during a international competition at the BLUEweek-MEDday event here.
The three-day series of lectures, addresses, seminars and an international conference on the Mediterranean Monk seal that comprised the 2006 BLUEweek-MEDday -- held in a coastal resort in verdant Antalya province of southern Turkey -- commemorated the 30th anniversary of the signing of the seminal Barcelona Convention -- in essence, the international framework of protocols that protect the Mediterranean Sea, and by extension, facilitate the entire basin's sustainable development.
Till Nowak's nine-minute-long "Delivery" and Holger Ernst's "Rain Is Falling" (14 minutes) shared the first-place honors out of 21 films screened.
"The two winning films skilfully use the different techniques of animation and poetic cinematography, respectively, to approach two different but equally important issues. In the first case we have the weight of an individual's decision for a (more abstract) global environment, while in the second we witness the human relationship with the most critical natural resource, water ...The two films also describe the variety of environmental concerns that are troubling the Mediterranean, from industrial pollution to urban sprawl in the first film, and from drought to the scarcity of resources in the second," MedWet coordinator Spyros Kouvelis stated on behalf of the entire international panel.
Second place went to the 17-minute film "Amal", a Moroccan-French production shot on location in Morocco by Ali Benkirane.
"Amal", while lacking a distinctly environmental message nevertheless picked up kudos by the film jury and audience members alike for its "sensitive and humane description of the vicious circle caused by poverty and lack of education, and the role of women," as the panel's communiqué noted.
"The Mediterranean Environmental Award is just one of the many initiatives promoted by the UN Environmental Program/Mediterranean Action Plan that sets a new course for this organization, which is set on providing citizens with new arenas for engagement ... Short films, animations, documentaries and photos are being used to analyze and better understand this new change in direction - as simply talking about the state of the marine environment is no longer enough," said Sergio Illuminato, the director of INFO/RAC, the Rome-based unit that organized the film competition and an affiliated photographic exhibition.
BLUEweek-MEDday was jointly organized by the three Barcelona Convention Regional Activity Centers (RACs), namely, the Specially Protected Areas/RAC, the Clean Production/RAC and INFO/RAC, with the collaboration and contribution of the Bonn and Bern Conventions and the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW), as well as with the support of the Italian ministry of environment, land and sea; the Turkish ministry of environment and forestry and the Principality of Monaco.
 EANA celebrates 50th anniversary; new president appointed
GENEVA, 23/09/2006 (ANA-MPA)The European Alliance of News Agencies (EANA) celebrated its 50th anniversary this week as a forum for cooperation between European news agencies, with the commemoration held here in tandem with a seminar entitled "Media Trends and News Agency Business" as well as with the association's annual general assembly.
The first EANA Award for Excellence in News Agency Quality was awarded to Meinolf Ellers, the managing director of dpa-infocom in Hamburg, a subsidiary of dpa. Ellers won the award in his capacity as coordinator of the Mobile Information and News Data Services (MINDS) project, developed by dpa-infocom, the Dutch news agency ANP, Austria's APA, the Hungarian agency MTI and the Swiss news agency SDA/ATS.
At the assembly, APA chief executive Wolfgang Vyslozil was elected president of EANA for two years, succeeding Paul Tesselaar, the managing director ANP, who stepped down after his two-year term.
Pal Bjerketvedt, the editor-in-chief and managing director of Norway's NTB and Matyas Vince, the president of the MTI were elected as new bureau (board) members for three years. The other two board members are Steven Brown, the managing director of the Press Association (Britain) and Erik Nylen of Stockholm, who was re-elected as secretary at the assembly.
The Athens News Agency (ANA-MPA) was represented by former long-time general director and current management adviser Andreas Christodoulides.
EANA is registered in Switzerland as a non-profit membership association and has 30 member-agencies.
 Ecumenical Patriarch Vartholomeos to visit Thessaloniki October 19-20
ISTANBUL, 23/09/2006 (ANA)Ecumenical Patriarch Vartholomeos will visit Thessaloniki, Macedonia, on October 19-20, accepting an invitation by the Soccer Veterans Society of the PAOK Thessaloniki soccer club, on the occasion of the club's 80th anniversary.
The Patriarch will arrive at Macedonia airport from Istanbul at 10 a.m. on October 19 and will meet the Metropolitan of Thessaloniki Anthimos on the next day in the morning.
On October 20 in the afternoon, he will be attending the event organized by PAOK's veteran players, while earlier in the afternoon he will participate in a religious service at the Agios Dimitrios Church. At the end of the church service, he will receive the presence of PAOK's soccer team.
PAOK's veteran players Costas Orfanos and Nikos Spandonidis, visited the Ecumenical Patriarch at the Fanar on Friday to confirm his visit to Thessaloniki.
 Study shows growing PC literacy of primary school pupils
THESSALONIKI, 23/09/2006 (ANA)Pupils of recent elementary school classes are familiar with personal computers, according to a study, with the overwhelming majority (96 percent) having used a computer at least once and 55.9 percent owning a PC.
The study on "Information Literacy" among children 10-12 years old was presented in a conference held in Thessaloniki on the issue of "Safe Internet Surfing for Children".
The study was conducted on a sample of 700 children 11-12 years old -- 52 percent boys (364) and 48 percent girls (336). Also, 81.4 percent were children with no learning disorders.
Based on the "information profile" of the pupils, 37.7 percent used a personal computer for the first time at the age of 9-10; 51.7 percent use the PC mainly at home and 42.4 percent use it once or twice a week.
The study showed that the "information profile" of pupils with no learning disorders is no different from the children with learning disorders.
 Numismatic museum hosts 'cost of living' event from antiquity to present day
ATHENS, 23/09/2006 (ANA)The Numismatic Museum in Athens will host a two-day event on Friday and Saturday that tracks the "cost of living" in Greece from the depths of antiquity to the present day.
Using precise replicas of ancient and later coins, it has arranged a series of events that show the cost of basic foodstuffs through the ages and what each coin was worth. It also looks at the wages earned by typical professions of each period and suggests characteristic recipes from each era for those who want to experiment in their own kitchens.
The event is entitled "From the market to the kitchen! What was the cost of food from antiquity until today" and will take place in the museum's garden, while entry is free.
 Romanian arrested for stealing priceless icon
ATHENS, 23/09/2006 (ANA)A 24-year old Romanian man was arrested in Hersonisos, Crete on Friday in connection with the theft of a priceless icon of the Virgin Mary from the Elonas Monastery in Leonidio, Arcadia last August.
He is now being transferred under a strong police escort to the prefecture of Arcadia in the Peloponnese in southern Greece to be charged.
The local community in the seaside town of Leonidio, Arcadia prefecture, was in shock on August 18 following the discovery that a 700-year-old icon of the Virgin Mary was stolen from the Elonas Monastery. The theft was discovered by the monastery's nuns.
The icon is highly venerated and believed to be miracle-working, with many people from all over Greece and abroad thronging to worship it, and it was adorned with hundreds of gold and silver offerings from worshippers.
 Papadopoulos: Ankara's EU obligations not linked with Cyprus talks
LARNACA, 23/09/2006 (CNA/ANA-MPA)The Republic of Cyprus does not seek to create a crisis in EU-Turkey relations, but insists that Ankara's obligations towards the EU must not be linked with developments regarding the Cyprus problem, Cypriot President Tassos Papadopoulos stressed on Friday.
In statements on his arrival from New York where he addressed the UN General Assembly, President Papadopoulos said that the Finnish EU Presidency has undertaken a fresh initiative regarding Turkey's compliance with its EU obligations.
He added that Finland accepts Cyprus' positions, which have been adopted by the EU that Turkey's obligations towards the EU do not depend on any developments regarding the Cyprus problem.
President Papadopoulos said that the lifting of the so-called isolation of the Turkish Cypriots is not related with the efforts regarding the implementation on behalf of Turkey of the Customs Union
Protocol, which provides for the opening of all Turkish ports and airports to all new EU member states, including the Republic of Cyprus.
Turkey refuses so far to open its borders to Cyprus and thus implement the Customs Union Protocol.
''We do not seek to create a crisis in EU-Turkey relations. But we strongly insist that Turkey's obligations cannot be linked with any developments in the Cyprus problem,'' he noted.
''We concentrate our efforts on achieving the return of the fenced off city of Varosha and opening the Famagusta port under EU supervision. This involves other actions and political issues as well, on which Finland is trying to reach consensus with various proposals,'' President Papadopoulos added.
So far, he said, there does not seem to be a favorable climate for the realization of Finland's efforts.
However, the president added that the Cypriot government's proposals regarding Famagusta are one of the main issues that the EU will use to test Turkey's will for the reunification of Cyprus and the restriction of the consequences of the Turkish occupation and invasion.
''There is no logic that would justify the continuous blockade of the fenced off city of Famagusta, which before the Turkish invasion in 1974 belonged 100% to Greek Cypriots,'' he stressed.
The president was also invited to comment on statements made by Turkish officials that Ankara wants to see a solution of the Cyprus problem by the end of the year.
''We want a solution of the Cyprus problem much earlier. If possible, we would want a solution yesterday and not by the end of this year,'' he said.
Referring to the Turkish statements, he said that they are mainly proclamations that do not reflect reality.
''We want a solution that really unifies Cyprus, its society, its economy, its area, and its institutions,'' he said and added that Turkish statements that Ankara wants a solution are merely statements, but the reality is that they aim at the perpetuation of the division and the creation of two separate state entities in Cyprus that would cooperate only in some areas.
President Papadopoulos was also invited to comment on statements made by Greek Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis, who said that it would be impossible to accept the continuation of Turkey's accession negotiations with the EU, unless Ankara meets its obligations.
''Bakoyiannis is correct,'' President Papadopoulos concluded.
Cyprus, which joined the EU in May 2004, has been divided since 1974, when Turkey invaded and occupied its northern third.
Turkey, a country aspiring to become an EU member state, does not recognize the Republic of Cyprus and refuses to implement the EU-Turkey Customs Union Protocol, by opening its ports and airports to Cyprus.
The Cypriot government's proposals on the Turkish occupied town of Famagusta provide for the opening of the Famagusta port under the joint administration of Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots and under EU supervision, as well as the return of the fenced off town Varosha to its legal inhabitants and the termination of any unlawful exploitation of Greek Cypriot property in the occupied areas.